After comments by state schools chief Tony Thurmond earlier this week, the State Board of Education voted Wednesday to seek relief from certain federal testing, accountability, and reporting requirements and directed staff to explore other ways to size up student learning progress amid the ongoing pandemic.
The board’s decision is in response to federal guidance released Monday that allows states to ask for latitude to account for the impact of the pandemic on schools. Unlike last year, the U.S. Department of Education will not invite states to apply for blanket waivers that would allow states to opt out of annual testing altogether, citing the role testing data plays in supporting students.
Source: State ed board wants flexibility on fed school assessments amid pandemic – The Reporter
By Kimberly K. Fu
With Vacaville public schools still in lockdown due to the pandemic, it’s been a gloomy senior year for the Class of 2021.
The community could be a bright spot in their lives as participants in the “Adopt-a-Grad” project, slated to bring smiles to their faces and add a spring to their steps.
“It’s just an uplifting and really cool thing,” explained Summyr Fien, a project organizer.
The mom of a graduating senior, Fien said she and others saw the heartbreaking losses experienced by last year’s seniors, including dances, prom, football games and just spending their final year with friends.
Source: Uplift a Vacaville graduating senior by “adopting” them – The Reporter
State schools chief Tony Thurmond on Tuesday quite plainly expressed his disapproval of the latest guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on administering statewide standardized tests in the COVID-19 era.
In a statement issued by the California Department of Education, he called the tests “imperfect measures at best and often provide snapshots of student performance that are far too narrow to help educators in any given year, let alone during a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic.”
“Most years, the results of statewide testing simply reflect the deep and systemic inequities that have placed generations of students at a historic, ongoing academic disadvantage,” he added.
Source: CDE chief Thurmond to feds: Standardized testing results ‘too narrow’ to help educators amid pandemic – Times-Herald
By Kimberly K. Fu
For a few hours Wednesday morning, a parking lot at Vacaville High School served as an “outdoor classroom” for an estimated 50 students of all ages.
Camped out with laptops at tables and desks, on tailgates and even on blankets on the ground, students shared a unifying message — Reopen the schools.
“Basically, we just want to get back to class,” said Kyle Fien, 14. “School is not really school.”
Kyle and fellow Vaca High freshmen Brody Fortunati and Micah Navarro, also 14, all said they just want to get back into the groove of learning. Distance learning is hard and there are a lot of distractions, they pointed out. The solution — returning to in-person learning.
Source: Vacaville students peacefully rally to return to school – The Reporter
By Todd R. Hansen
Solano’s top health official said those concerned, or complaining, that the county is trailing others in the Bay Area with vaccinations simply do not understand the realities of the situation.
Dr. Bela Matyas said vaccinations are not something that can be easily compared county to county.
The county as of Monday had vaccinated about 55,000 people, although the state also has private contracts with the hospitals, pharmacies, Travis Air Force Base and the Vacaville prisons, and the county does not receive reports on the number of people vaccinated through those contracts.
Source: Health officials say Solano not lagging behind in Covid-19 vaccinations
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today the release of guidelines that address grading student progress and the ongoing issue of equity in distance and hybrid learning environments. Resources that support local control are included in the new guidance, allowing schools to make the best decisions for their respective student populations.
“As the majority of California’s public schools continue to respond to distance learning needs, we should reflect on how student progress is measured and consider how to shift to more equitable grading systems and policies, whether the instructional setting is in-person, virtual, or hybrid,” Thurmond said. “This is an opportunity to make a significant change.”
The new guidance includes research-based approaches to grading that may be especially helpful if students are not in class and access to technology and learning supports may be unequal. These include replacing grading quantities, such as the extent to which students have completed assignments, with grading qualities in student work that reflect students’ current achievement level at the time, and using flexibility in timing the collection of evidence for grading decisions so students are graded on the learning they do, not when they do it.
Source: Grading Guidance for Progress in Distance Learning – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)
By Kris Corey
Rodriguez High students earned top honors at the Solano-Alameda Section FFA speaking contest on February 10, 2021. Students participated in both the impromptu speaking and FFA Creed recitation competitions.
FFA is one of the many Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) that is active in Fairfield-Suisun Unified schools. FFA is one of the oldest and largest CTSOs in the United States. Rodriguez FFA students compete as part of the Solano-Alameda Section. This section includes students from eight other high schools and spans the distance from Dixon to Half Moon Bay.
Source: Press Release: Rodriguez High Future Farmers of America Win Recognition at Sectional Speaking Contest
By Wayne Freedman
Broken eggs and rotting yokes on a suburban sidewalk. Your house might also become a target if you put up a sign urging California schools to reopen.
“You can hide in the dark to do it, but your point will never be made because we don’t know what you have to say,” said Jimmy Ferrucci about the people who pelted his yard last weekend.
Jimmy and his wife Sarah made their statement months ago. You’ve heard of one room school houses? How about the two-car garage school house where the Ferrucci family, their kids and friends attend class together.
“We are advocating for our children. Standing up. Saying we want an option,” said Sarah.
Source: COVID-19 in California: Solano County parents frustrated with distance learning create classroom in their garage – ABC7 San Francisco
By Richard Bammer
Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District leaders are preparing for students to return to classrooms in a “hybrid” format as schools request parents to complete “Intent to Return” forms by Friday.
In a press release issued Monday, Sheila McCabe, the district’s assistant superintendent of educational services, said the governing board voted to return to a hybrid model once Solano County maintains five consecutive days in the red tier, which is designated when daily new cases fall to four to seven per 100,000 persons and positive test rates range from 5 to 8 percent.
But the California Department of Public Health notes that while the red tier means a “substantial” risk level for COVID-19 infection, schools can reopen for in-person instruction after they have remained in the tier for 14 days.
Source: FSUSD prepares for students to return to classrooms with ‘hybrid’ model – The Reporter
By Kris Corey
Schools requesting parents complete “Intent to Return” forms by February 26th.
Fairfield, CA (February 22, 2021) – The FSUSD Governing Board took action to return to a hybrid model once Solano County maintains five consecutive days in the Red Tier. As a result, staff is putting the final touches on preparing the schools for the return of having students in-person.
As a part of the approved hybrid model, parents will have the option for their children to return for in-person instruction or continue in distance learning. “Intent to Return” forms are being emailed to parents from each principal at every FSUSD school. Parents will also be able to access the “Intent to Return” forms on the FSUSD website at fsusd.org, or from their children’s school. We are asking families to complete an “Intent to Return” for each child. The District is asking that the electronic form be submitted by Friday, February 26, 2021.
Source: Press Release: FSUSD Prepares for Students to Return to Classroom
Mariah Levy, a senior at Vanden High School, and Shelbri Gates, a senior at Mare Island Technology Academy, have received the first-ever Travis Credit Union Foundation scholarship.
The $500 awards were “developed to motivate and support college-aged youth from underserved communities to pursue post-secondary educational opportunities,” according to a statement released by the credit union.
The scholarships were announced during the annual Life after High School event, hosted in partnership with the Solano County Office of Education.
Source: Solano students receive Travis Credit scholarships
By Richard Bammer
As the Solano County Public Health department advances its COVID-19 vaccination rollout, the Solano County Office of Education is providing data collection help for the vaccination planning for Solano educators and school support staff.
The news comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom, under pressure to reopen California’s public school classrooms, said on Friday that, starting March 1, the state will reserve 10% of its first doses of COVID-19 vaccines for teachers and classified, or school-support, employees.
But local vaccine supply is currently limited, requiring “a phased approach” to vaccination rollout for Solano school employees, Jennifer Leonard, the SCOE’s director of community affairs and public information, said in a press statement issued Saturday.
Source: Coronavirus: SCOE pitches in for teacher, support staff vaccine planning – The Reporter
By Nick Sestanovich
The Dixon school board unanimously approved a hybrid reopening plan that aims to bring students back to school for in-person learning at its Thursday meeting.
The reopening of Dixon Unified School District campuses will be dependent upon Solano County returning to the red tier, but Superintendent Brian Dolan said the district is aiming to have students back in class March 16 in the “best case scenario.” If conditions do not improve, the reopening date will be modified.
Dolan said Thursday’s meeting was the most important in a long time and acknowledged that the closure of schools on March 13 to stop the spread of the coronavirus has been very difficult for students and their families.
Source: Coronavirus: Dixon school board approves hybrid reopening plan – The Reporter
By Nick Sestanovich
In a normal year, Joe Moreno would be celebrating his 94th birthday at Pietro’s No. 1.
However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, his family brought him the next best thing: a surprise car parade in front of his house featuring several local dignitaries.
Joe’s grandson, Matt, said his grandfather had been wowed by a car parade in May hosted for Matt’s sister Carlie.“He thought it was just the coolest thing he’s ever been a part of,” Matt said.
“He was born and raised here, so he’s been here 94 years and he’s very familiar with the Fiesta Days parade. He thought it was the coolest thing that somebody would have a parade on their birthday.”
Source: A parade for Papa Joe – The Reporter
By Todd R. Hansen
Gov. Gavin Newsom flipped the switch Thursday on a Safe Schools for All website, and backed his initiative with a $90 billion budget proposal.
“I am of the firm belief that we can safely get back our children, youngest children, get them back safely into schools in small cohorts,” Newsom said.
“We can get this done. We must get it done,” he said.
Jared Austin agrees with the governor, but said he thinks students should have been back in the classrooms months ago.
Source: Vacaville public charter school shows the way during pandemic
By Kris Corey
Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District families are making social connections, receiving support and encouragement, and teaching and enriching each other through online Parent Cafés that are being hosted by schools throughout the district.
The Parent Café is a nationally recognized family strengthening and parent engagement program that brings together parents, guardians, and caregivers in a safe supervised setting. Interactions emphasizing core skills of listening without interrupting, sharing without judgment, and mutual support of fellow community members facing similar challenges as parents are encouraged and promoted.
Source: Press Release: Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District Hosts Parent Cafés
Los Angeles Times:
The announcement this week that Los Angeles County coronavirus rates have finally dropped low enough to allow for the immediate reopening of elementary schools is leading to an uneven return to class — fast in districts serving more affluent communities, but just one step in an arduous climb for school systems elsewhere, including in L.A. Unified.
Both school leaders and families face difficult choices after pandemic-forced school closures nearly a year ago upended the education of about 1.5 million students in L.A. County and about 6 million statewide. Every school system has the authority to decide how far to go when reopening elementary campuses — and how soon.
Source: Lower infection rates mean elementary schools can reopen immediately – but it’s complicated
By Kris Corey
Students in the Virtual Enterprises (VE) program at Armijo High School ranked among the top 10 out of the 51 California classrooms who exhibited a simulated business at VE’s Witer Westl Online Trade Show on January 21st.
The trade show connects students, firms and industry professionals in order to facilitate sales of virtual products and services through video conference sales sessions.
The Armijo High School students created a virtual business that responds to the current need for at-home entertainment. Their virtual business, FlickBox, delivers a movie theater experience right to someone’s doorstep.
Source: Good News: Armijo Entrepreneurs Earn Top Honors at Trade Show
By Kris Corey
Finding ways to support and connect with Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District students in the midst of a global pandemic has been challenging. Collaboratively, the Child Nutrition and Transportation Departments have delivered meals to Special Education students and FSUSD siblings. As of February 5, 2021, FSUSD has delivered approximately 25,740 boxed meals. Child Nutrition staff and bus drivers embrace this opportunity to once again connect with students and families. During these uncertain times, we want to highlight the kindness of one particular bus driver.
Source: Press Release: Leading with Kindness at FSUSD
By Thomas Gase
When it comes to COVID-19 in Solano County, it’s like officials have heard three voices, just like in the 1989 film, “Field of Dreams.”
The first two voices say, “If you build it, they will come” and “Ease his pain.” Solano has hosted five vaccination clinics in the last two weeks at either the Solano County Fairgrounds or Benicia gym and giving out approximately 9,000 shots to people aged 75-and older or in the first tier of Phase 1, you could say the county has received that message and gotten work done.
It’s that “go the distance” message that seems to be confusing people. While many people want to return to in-person instruction with schools, distance learning seems to be the pick for the foreseeable future.
Source: When will schools go back to in-person instruction in Solano County? – Times-Herald